We have been looking at how Jesus worked in engaging the culture in which He found Himself when born as a man and dwelling among us. It is time to move on to His second stage of creating the first church and thus the model for the Church that He is building today. After engaging His culture and even while continuing to do so He began to form community. This is the second step in what the Lord is doing today in His Church as well as what we must do when planting the Gospel in any new community.
The second part of the APOSTOLIC FLOW is what I call community formation. This is the natural second phase of life as an apostolic team – not because it is a “step” but because it is all you can really do when you are starting the build from scratch which many are doing today worldwide.
As disciples begin to build relationships through their jobs and involvement in their neighborhoods we find people becoming interested in how they are living and what the belief structure is behind their lifestyle. They are being incarnational and people are noticing and beginning to ask questions – some may even hear the Gospel and become born again as a result of this incarnational influence and connection of true disciples to the communities in which they live.
As people begin to grow in their spiritual curiosity – what do you think the next logical or natural step would be? Well, invite them to your church! But maybe you don’t yet have a functioning church on a Sunday morning – so that option is out. Or, you have a church but it is still in the stage of being transformed and reconstructed and so you would not want to introduce this hungry seeker and sinner to your on-going, under construction local church. So, what do you do?
Simple really – you form a community of people who come together because they know and relate to you and share your beliefs. This should not be more than four or five people (say two couples and a single person) who share a common belief in the need to impact your community and form a faith community within the wider community.
Then as you meet on a regular basis and continue to connect with people in the wider community on a heart level and allow them to see your life – your new, as yet unsaved friends, will begin to invite themselves into your spiritual community. I know because I have seen it happen time after time. As you begin to connect with others socially and recreationally and come across as a vibrant, real, relevant person and disciple – they will want to come and see what it is all about and will often literally invite themselves to your informal home discussion/fellowship group.
And, as you gather informally in someone’s home you simply talk about life and God. You keep it low key, informal, a place where everyone can feel safe; where they can ask their questions and not feel stupid; and where all questions will be taken seriously and answered without using simple, pat and often brain-dead answers in Christianese. The key is to keep it simple, leave it open to all and any topic of discussion and go with the flow. It takes a secure disciple to lead this but you can do it and will grow into it.